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Senior Bowl quarterbacks ready for NFL audition

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Senior Bowl quarterbacks ready for NFL audition

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) Quarterbacks at all-star games have tough assignments.

The six Senor Bowl signal callers will be playing off cliff notes of a new offense, throwing to unfamiliar receivers and taking snaps from a new center in Saturday's NFL showcase. And they'll all do it from under center, not the shotgun for those more accustomed to the spread in college.

All the while with dozens of scouts, coaches and NFL execs studying their every move on and off the field. Not that anyone is complaining considering the potential rewards.

``It's a job interview so you've got to be ready to go when it's time to go,'' Syracuse's Ryan Nassib he said.

That could mean a lot of money for those who deftly manage the tasks. The game might be the most relaxing part of the weeklong job fair.

West Virginia's Geno Smith, widely considered the top quarterback prospect, skipped the Senior Bowl.

That left Nassib, North Carolina State's Mike Glennon and Zac Dysert of Miami, Ohio, as the North quarterbacks and Florida State's E.J. Manuel, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson on the South.

All piled up big college numbers, then had to start over on Monday.

``We're used to the first day of practice just about every ball on the ground, fumbled exchanges, all those things,'' said the Detroit Lions' Jim Schwartz, coach of the South team. ``But from the time all three of those quarterbacks stepped into the huddle on the first day they had good command and weren't botching snaps and they were making accurate throws.

``People underestimate how difficult that is when you come into an environment like this.''

The six quarterbacks bring plenty of experience to the task. They've logged an average of 10,000-plus career passing yards and 71 touchdowns led by Jones, a four-year starter who passed for 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns for the Sooners.

Even with players like Smith and a host of juniors at various positions not around, the Senior Bowl has some projected first-round talent, according to mock drafts. That includes Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher, Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins, Baylor receiver Terrance Williams and Brigham Young defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah.

The quarterbacks get a chance to display their arms, brains and leadership.

``I look around and there's some really talented quarterbacks here, guys that I've been hearing about all year long and watching on TV,'' said Nassib, whose team beat West Virginia and Smith in the Pinstripe Bowl said. ``It's a very competitive class. I just have to make sure I go out and play my game and try to prove myself to these teams here.''

Glennon is a strong-armed 6-foot-6, 220-pounder who is projected as a potential Top 10 pick by some. They all share similar goals for the week.

``I just want to prove that I belong in the NFL and that I can win games in the NFL,'' he said. ``I know it's hard to prove that in one week, but they have a good eye for it. I just want to prove that I can make the right throws, I can make the right decisions and execute well enough to lead an offense to victory.''

At least one Senior Bowl quarterback has been chosen in the first round of the past three drafts, including Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden (22nd, Cleveland Browns) last year.

Christian Ponder and Jake Locker both made the cut two years ago and Tim Tebow was a first-rounder in 2010. It remains to be seen which quarterbacks have helped or hurt their cause this week.

``It's a big week for all of us,'' Glennon said. ``A lot of players that come here help themselves out tremendously. I think we all realize the opportunity in front of us, and that's why it's such a great event.''

Their targets include Michigan's converted quarterback Denard Robinson and Williams, the nation's leading receiver. Williams caught 97 passes for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns - including a 17-catch, 314-yard effort on Sept. 29 against West Virginia.

That topped the performance a week earlier by Arkansas' Cobi Hamilton, who gets to team up with Wilson for another week, at least. Hamilton had 10 catches for 303 yards against Rutgers.

Meanwhile, Florida State's 6-foot-4, 237-pound Manuel impressed Schwartz with his physique.

``The thing that pops out is his size,'' said Schwartz, who also praised his accuracy. ``(Ben) Roethlisberger's a big quarterback but I think he's got nothing on Manuel. He's got super long arms. He looks like a tight end out there. He's just a really, really big man.''

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How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

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USA TODAY Sports

How the Caps upset the Lightning to win the conference championship

It wasn't supposed to happen.

The Capitals celebrated too hard after beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. The Tampa Bay Lightning had been here before. Tampa Bay's roster was deeper. Their goalie was hotter. They had home ice advantage. They had easily won their first two series. Nicklas Backstrom was still injured. Washington wouldn't be able to stop the Lightning's power play.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

For all of those reasons, many did not even give the Caps a chance. Washington overcame every obstacle in their way and was, for the most part, the better team through seven games defeating Tampa Bay to win the Eastern Conference for just the second time in franchise history.

The Capitals showed in their second-round win over the Penguins that these weren't the "same old Caps." They continued to prove that in the conference final when they stunned the Lightning to win Game 1 and Game 2 both on the road.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

When Washington lost the next three, many thought that meant the real Lightning had awoken, but it was the Caps who rose to the occasion in Game 6 and Game 7 where they face elimination as they completely dominated Tampa Bay by a combined score of 7-0.

The Caps now advance to take on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final. The Knights have lost only three games this entire postseason and will hope to carry that momentum with them into Game 1.

If there is one thing this Washington team has proven, however, it's that you should never count them out.

Here's how the Capitals were able to shock the hockey world and upset the Lightning.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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